Mentoring Moments and More for Millennials

Guest post by Dianna Booher:


Millennials drop an employer
quicker than they leave a boring party when they see no career-growth
opportunities. Career development is the
cool calling card––a powerful tease to job seekers you’d like to have join your

Today’s employees want personalized career plans that fits
their goals, dreams, and lifestyle. They expect their individual leaders to
show interest in their career and coach them on how to reach their potential. Leaders
know all this. They actually want these career-development opportunities for

The problem? In this understaffed,
deadline-driven climate, developing team members simply drops to the bottom of
a leader’s to-do list. Managers insist they’re so busy that they have little or
no time to coach or even consider these “extra benefits” like career development.

But wait. We’re not talking “training” here—as in designing
training courses and sending  staffers
off the job. Who has time to wait for them to return and play “catch up” for
days or weeks? Strategic thinkers often do things differently today. Consider
any one or several of these “mentoring moments”:

Moment #1:  Create an “aside” conversation.
may not have an hour to devote, but you can spare a minute or ten. When the
occasion occurs, invite the team member to “Step into my office for a minute. I
just decided to sign a contract with Z Company. Let me tell you how I arrived
at that decision, so in the future when these things come up, you’ll have some
background here.” The individual will understand that you are investing time—no
matter how brief—in their career development.

Moment #2: Touch base periodically about their interests for future assignments
and career growth.  
anything changed in their immediate and long-term goals? Any new skills
gained?  New stretch assignments they’d
like to tackle? Hobbies become career aspirations. Career aspirations fade to
become only hobby interests. Income and savings goals evolve as family
situations change. Their health or a family member’s health may necessitate
lifestyle and career choices. Staying updated on their current needs and goals
demonstrates interest.

Moment #3: Suggest resources—things or people.
Make millennials
accountable for their own development. Suggest
resources they may not be aware of—your company’s HR function, a local
university, industry conferences, books, audios, subscription programs,
webinars, podcasts, or online programs. But whatever they choose, make sure
your team understands that they’re responsible for their career development in
the same way they’re accountable for their physical fitness. Simply mention a resource
that you’ve found helpful, and suggest they may want to investigate further for
their own purposes.

Later, reinforce their
personal accountability every chance you get.  Ask if they found any of the
resources you’ve mentioned helpful. What did they like or not like? Did they
find another book, course, podcast, blog, or app more useful?

At staff meetings, as part of
your discussions from time to time, ask team members what books, articles, or
blogs they’re reading. What conferences have they attended? What new insights have
they gained that they can share with their colleagues?

All of these opportunities demonstrate
interest in career development for the team and for individuals. And such
casual discussions accomplish several additional purposes: They keep you up to
date on changes in employee goals, reinforce that team members themselves own
the responsibility for their personal development, and give them opportunity to
get a mentoring moment from more experienced group members. And you, as leader,
have facilitated that learning.

your team doesn’t mean another block of time at the end of an already
overwhelming month or quarter. A mentoring moment or two can be brief but powerfully
engaging. After all, what employee doesn’t like to talk about themselves—their
goals, their dreams, and their future opportunities?

Dianna Booher is
author of 47 books, published in 60 foreign-language editions. Her latest book
is CommunicateLike a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done.
She works with organizations to help them communicate clearly and with leaders
to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. Good Morning America,
USA Today, The Wall Street Journal,
Investor’s Business Daily
, Bloomberg,, Fast Company, FOX, CNN, NPR, Success,
and Entrepreneur routinely interview
her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues.  @DiannaBooher